Thursday, May 6, 2010
Player review: Jere Lehtinen
By Richard Durrett
Today, we'll take a quick look at Jere Lehtinen as part of our player review series.
When healthy, Jere Lehtinen was a valuable piece for the Stars.
Lehtinen, like Mike Modano and Marty Turco, was honored that final home game of the 2009-10 season because the club wasn't sure whether he'd be back. And while we already know Turco won't be returning to Dallas and Modano must decide whether he's going to retire, the odds are good that Lehtinen once again puts on a Stars uniform.
Why? Because unlike Modano, who may not fit on this team with its current group of forwards and an effort to get more young players power-play time, Lehtinen can be plugged in anywhere. He turns 37 this summer and has battled a rash of injuries the past few seasons. But if he'd be willing to stay for a fair price, he does so much defensively out there he's a real asset.
Lehtinen, a three-time Selke winner, played in 58 games this season. He had 17 points, including 13 assists, and was minus-8. It was the third straight season that Lehtinen played 58 games or fewer (he played 48 in each of the two previous seasons) as he's battled a balky back.
Stars coach Marc Crawford used the veteran to help several different lines with his defensive presence. If the Stars' top lines were having difficulty getting back or making solid plays in their own zone, Crawford put Lehtinen out there and things got better. That's just what he does on the ice.
Lehtinen was an important part of the club's penalty kill, logging 2:17 of average ice time per game on the PK. He has an ability to knock pucks down, interrupt a scorer's momentum and clear pucks.
It will be interesting to see what happens this summer, but I would be surprised if Lehtinen isn't re-signed by the club for next season.